Taking a Nut Corner too fast

It has been a busy weekend.  We have been in Sheffield seeing our friend Alisdair perform in Into the Woods. Sheffield is quite transformed from 21 years ago when I first went to visit my new in laws and I can see why it is becoming more and more popular.

We visited the very beautiful Hardwick Hall while we were there.  It is about the same age as our house though I think Bess, Duchess of Shrewsbury, had a few more resources to hand than the mystery man who built ours.Bess of Hardwick was a widow of 65 when she built this glorious house in the 1590’s and you have to admire her chutzpah putting just her initials in massive stone letters on the top of each tower.  Her grand daughter, Princess Arbella, was a now not so well known potential heir to the throne after Elizabeth I. She was yet another victim of vicious Tudor and Stuart politics.   Once James I was on the throne, her womb became a threat and eventually she  was confined to the Tower to stop her producing rival claimants to James. There she met a sad end starving herself to death in protest at not being allowed to leave.

We got home a little earlier than expected so I decided to set to and bake the Nußecke – the Nut Corner.  Darling hubby had found some hazelnuts at the back of the store cupboard (both ground and skinned whole ones) and I wanted to make sure the weekly blog was not deprived.  I soon realised I was driving down this road a little too fast, and the Nut Corner was definitely going to be a little tight. I put it down to not having had time to do a huge amount of research on how to do the Nußecke, and being a little over confident because I  felt it looked relatively straightforward.

I thought it was a shortbread biscuit with a hazelnut caramel topping dipped in chocolate and maybe that is what it should be, but that is certainly not what I made. The base itself turned out more sponge/pastry like than shortbread like, and the topping was more like a flapjack than the caramel crunchy nutty thing it is supposed to be.   You can see the clear difference between the the theory and and my attempt in the 2 pictures below – no prizes for guessing which one is mine.

I am not completely sure what went wrong but I suspect the nut topping was too thick so didn’t caramelise in the oven. I also didn’t heat up the sugar and butter mixture during the initial preparation of the topping so the sugar had further to go to caramelise during the bake. The base also felt too wet so behaved more like sponge than pastry or biscuit.  It may also be that I added too much jam which got in the way of the nut mixture caramelising.  Until I try again I will never know.

The corners were tasty though even if they weren’t quite as intended. More a nutty flapjack without the oats than a Nut Corner

IMG_0144

Now I was going to muse on the hazelnut, but that will have to wait until another time.  All I can say is if you want to cook with them you need to go to the internet to get ground or skinless ones.  Neither are easy to find in the shops but this website, Healthy Supplies, is a treasure trove for the baker in search of the more esoteric ingredients.

So here is the (slightly amended) recipe:

The Base

  • 350g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 120g sugar
  • 18g  vanilla sugar (or 2 tsp of of Vanilla Extract)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 130g butter

To spread

  • 3-4 tbs apricot jam

Topping

  • 200g butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 18g vanilla sugar (or 2 tsp of of Vanilla Extract)
  • 4 tbs water
  • 400g hazelnuts ( 50% ground, 50% chopped)

Glaze

  • Dark Chocolate melted

Preheat oven to 180C /160C fan and grease and line a baking tray (a full oven tray is what I would recommend).

To make the base – Stage 1

  • Sift and mix flour with baking powder in a bowl, mix in sugar and make a well in the centre.
  • Place eggs in the well, incorporate into the flour mixture.
  • Chop butter into small pieces, add to the flour mixture and mix. Once all incorporated, use your hands to make a dough.
  • Alternatively just put all the ingredients into a mixer and mix until they form a dough
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate as you proceed to the next steps.

To make the topping

  • Bring butter, sugar and water for the nut topping to a boil
  • Stir and cook for several minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is foamy.
  • Stir in all the nuts.
  • Remove from heat and let it cool for 10 minutes

To make the base – Stage 2

  • remove dough from the fridge
  • roll or press (pressing seems to be the most popular method) the dough into a buttered pan.
    • I would recommend a full oven baking pan – the bigger the pan, the thinner the nut corners
  • Spread the dough with apricot jam.
  • Spoon the nut filling over the crust and smooth.

Bake for about 25-30mins.

To create the corners

  • Cool for 20 minutes
  • Cut the bars into squares (about 8cm square), then across the diagonal into triangles
  • Allow to cool completely
  • Melt the chocolate over a bain marie
  • Dip opposite corners of the nut bars into the chocolate
  • Place back on the parchment paper and allow the chocolate to harden.

 

 

 

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